PARENT PLAYGROUP, AN INNOVATIVE RESPONSE TO THE GROWING DEMAND FOR OUR SERVICES.
The increasing number of children needing support in the early years is leading to longer waiting lists for assessment and intervention. Intervening at the earliest stage provides the child and family with greater opportunities for positive outcomes.
In order to address the larger number of referrals to McKenzie Centre and to be responsive to our mission we began a weekly parent led playgroup in December 2022. This playgroup is facilitated by Linda Depledge Brooker, tuakana, with the support of Siobhan Patterson, speech language therapist. We provide a play space where parents attend with their children to meet other parents in similar situations, to build relationships, to begin their engagement with early intervention providers and to see if the support of McKenzie Centre is what is needed in their situation. There is no charge to attend.
The role of parents is critical as they heavily influence their child’s development when they are actively involved in the intervention strategies. If a parent feels knowledgeable and confident in their role this will positively impact on their competence and decrease stress that is present when raising a child with disabilities or developmental delays. The playgroup provides an opportunity to hear the parents voices rather than ‘wait and see’.
While it is early days in the provision of this initiative, we have seen the numbers of families increase. We are keen to continue exploring a flexible range of service options, to address our concerns about the impact that delayed early intervention has on the wellbeing of children and their whānau.